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Plan to reopen Eric's greeted with anger and dismay

Legendary Liverpool club 'belongs in the past and should stay there'

Written by . Published on May 10th 2011.

Plan to reopen Eric's greeted with anger and dismay

ONE of the former owners of the Liverpool nightclub Eric's today described plans to reopen the venue as “foolish and cynical”.

Ken Testi said it would “at best be a pale imitation of the venue, at worst another pisspot for Mathew Street”.

His remarks came as Jayne Casey, who was part of one of the venue's best known acts, Big In Japan, said she imagined another founder, Roger Eagle, would be "turning in his grave” at the news.

worldfamousericslogo-1.jpgThe club, which opened in 1976, is to begin trading later this year as "The World Famous Eric's".

It will operate under the auspices of city businessman John Lynch, former owner of the 051 nightclub on Brownlow Hill, and his team who are said to be “hard at work researching every detail of the original club”. 

Eric's showcased the early talents of the Buzzcocks, The Clash, Elvis Costello, The Jam, The Police, The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers and U2.

Founded by Eagle,Testi and Pete Fulwell, it became synonymous with the punk-rock era and helped launch the careers of Echo and the Bunnymen, OMD, Dead or Alive, Pete Wylie and the Teardrop Explodes, while members of Big in Japan spawned Frankie goes to Hollywood, the KLF, The Lightning Seeds and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

'Eric's is dead. If you want to celebrate it, lay a gravestone in Mathew Street, put flowers on it if you want, but don't dig it up' - Jayne Casey

But despite closing 31 years ago, Eric's' star has not diminished. A successful musical about the club was commissioned by the Everyman for Liverpool's European Capital of Culture year in 2008, an exhibit on the club is to feature in the new Museum of Liverpool and its name regularly crops up in books and articles referencing the period.

Now there are plans to re-open its doors in time for the 35th anniversary of its birth, in October.

Ericsb%26#38%3Bw.jpgMr Lynch, along with musician Ethan Allen and promoter Lee Butler, radio DJ who runs dance club nights in Liverpool, today said he would like to get original bands who played there, like The Stranglers, back on the stage.

“Eric’s is part of Liverpool’s musical heritage and we want to return it to its former glory. It’s being recreated in the image of the original venue but we’ll have to bring certain things up to date. The venue will have air conditioning and there will be showers for the dressing rooms. Just like the old Eric’s we too want to provide a stage for talented local bands so Eric’s can become part of their musical history,” said Mr Lynch.

Mr Allen added: “Craig Charles (who was 15 when Eric's closed, ed) got his first break there by reading poetry between the acts. We want to make Eric’s special again.”

Jayne Casey, however, told Liverpool Confidential she was horrified at the plans.

“There is nothing wrong with celebrating a past culture, either in books or plays or in film, but that's very very different to appropriating a culture,” she said. 

“Eric's is dead. If you want to celebrate it, lay a gravestone in Mathew Street, put flowers on it if you want, but don't dig it up.”

jayne casey.jpgMs Casey, who among achievements was artistic director of the Liverpool 08 opening event, added: “One night, in 1977, Roger Eagle had a really serious conversation with myself Ian McCulloch and Pete Wylie. He told us we must never listen to The Beatles; that it was vital to the future of the Liverpool music scene that a new generation with a new sound emerged.

“He made us solemnly promise and none of us have ever broken that promise.

“Liverpool today is known as a music city, but it could have easily ended with The Beatles because in reality their achievements could not be surpassed.

“Performers, musicians in this city still suffer to this day because it is stuck in the shadow of what went decades ago. That's what Roger was getting at.

“We have to ask ourselves seriously if we want to be just a big museum. Is the future of Liverpool based on trading on its past?”

Ken Testi.jpgMr Testi added: “Eric's was a thing of its time. We were outside of clubland and we didn't showcase local bands, we grew them.

“This is a foolish and cynical attempt to misappropriate a valued part of city culture. Eric's worked because it was not a part of anything.

“I am mystified that the local media is almost unanimously greeting this as a good news story.”

*For further reading, see this from 2009.

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63 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Angie Sammons shared this on Facebook on May 10th 2011.
Tim TaplingMay 10th 2011.

I can see no issue with re-opening the venue as its been sitting there untouched for years and on the plus side .... it isn't a mirror image ... on the wrong side of the road !!
So rather than voice your dis-approval of the appropriation of your history out of outrage, fear of the unknown and the perceived theft of "your" history . I would challenge the 'old school' to get involved & contact the venue's management, perhaps run a night which they can program with acts that fit with their idea's of what the cultural heritage of Eric's is .. now in the 21st C .. which maybe Roger Eagle would approve of and endorse ? Then allow a new generation to decide as to the validity of the new venture at Eric's . I do have some sympathy for Mr Testi's & Jayne Casey's views ... but such an iconic brand has a commercial value and provided it's true to the original concept .. why not give it a chance .. for NOTHING can ever step into the shoes of the original concept nor steal your recollections of what it was and meant to your generation !

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 10th 2011.

Eric's was not a brand. And it had no commercial value at the time. If you remember it actually went bust. And the original concept won't work because it was conceived by people who loved music more than money.

Echo TedMay 10th 2011.

Brilliant. Proper piece of reporting.

Brian FleetMay 10th 2011.

Yes, Tim, but the iconic brand does not belong to carpetbaggers seeing a way to make a fast buck. The original concept is dead and buried. Liverpool culture will never move on while it is steeped in the past. The Cavern, Erics, all cast a long shadow and we are wrong to keep digging it up.

AnonymousMay 10th 2011.

A corpse has been sitting there untouched for years Tim, though, hasn't it? So does that mean you exhume it. Does it mean that it will spring back to life.

Ken Testi and Jayne Casey have a point, and certainly a side of the story that I have not seen anywhere else today. Also, to have people who had nothing to do with it making money out of your image and your creative work must be quite sick-making I expect.

Ethan AllenMay 10th 2011.

Please pass this on to all concerned, if anybody wants to be involved in the new live music venue on the original site of Erics then please feel free to add me and get in touch. If anyone who was there at the time wants to chat or pass on any ideas then they will be very welcomed. This includes promoters or bands who have ideas for nights.
We hope people can see the positives of having another 500 capacity live music venue in Liverpool for a new generation of musicians of all genres to perform their own music in. It's never going to be Eric's of 76 - 80 it's going to be Eric's of 2011. For those people who used to go to Eric's it will never be the same, that's obvious, how could it ever be? But it will spark off memories, but more importantly what it will be is a place where a new generation can perform their music in the same room as musical legends did 30 years before.
It's not a corpse, it's not a baby, it's a cellar with a history of putting on great live entertainment.
And for the record, i'm not a carpetbagger, i'm a musician and there's no such thing as a fast buck in live music!
Ethan Allen.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 10th 2011.

No problem with new venue, live bands etc etc but why did you have to steal the name, other people's energy, our past etc? And btw, Eric's wasn't about 'entertainment' it was about rock'n'roll!

Darran AndrewMay 11th 2011.

Go for it!
Think this is a great idea. I was the specialist adviser and on the big punk/new wave exhibition last year so might be able to help with some contacts.
Drop me an emial if you want to chat.

Sascha GabrielJuly 27th 2011.

hey there,I've been a goth and alt DJ (Catacombs/DJ Transient2Deviant) since 1990 at the Parrot, Manchester Underworld, Freewheelers,Jak's etc etc etc...was a regular Planet X goer at Temple St but missed out on the original Eric's as I didn't move here till 1988 =[ am interested in any DJing slots you might have to offer, my email is transient2deviant@yahoo.com hope to hear from you =]

EditorialMay 10th 2011.

Thanks Ethan for your input. We did try to get some reaction from yourselves to the comments put forward in our story, but nobody was available this afternoon.

Siduri BadcMay 10th 2011.

@ Ethan Allen "We hope people can see the positives of having another 500 capacity live music venue in Liverpool for a new generation of musicians of all genres to perform their own music in. It's never going to be Eric's of 76 - 80 it's going to be Eric's of 2011."

So why call it 'Eric's'?

1 Response: Reply To This...
IwasthereMay 10th 2011.

Yeah, why call it Eric's? The Eric's venue had been the New Cavern. Ken Testi and Roger Eagle didn't look to the previous decade. Why don't these guys come up with a new name for this century?

Ethan AllenMay 10th 2011.

If someone excavated the original Cavern and made it into a live music venue again what would you expect it to be called? Face it, anything else but the Cavern would be silly. When they re-built Wembley Stadium (without the towers) they still named it Wembley. I am truly sorry that some people have an issue with another generation using the venue and the name Eric's. A new venue of kids being able to experience live music matinees on a saturday.
With so much going on in the world today, I think it's a bit childish to get so angered over this issue. The Cellar at that address has always been referred to as Eric's and should continue to do so. We welcome everybody's input into this project and hope to incorporate a really great live music venue into these abandoned cellars that have been sadly left to rot. I am sorry but i can only see an indipendent live music venue for alternative music in Liverpool as a positive.

IwasthereMay 10th 2011.

Who's getting 'angered'?

The comments from those who where actually part of Eric's are not so much anger as disbelief that what you are proposing is so far from removed from what Eric's was really about.

Darth FormbyMay 10th 2011.

This is a dirty slimy little idea. Nothing short of desecration.

There should be such a thing as cultural 'listing' like we have for buildings. If we did, there would never have been remakes of King Kong or the Wicker Man. Terry Jacks and Westlife would not have been allowed cover Le Moribond, and 21st century, soulless dollar gimps like these would not be allowed to defile something they will never be equiped to understand.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousMay 11th 2011.

Well said!

Absinthe & TurksMay 25th 2011.


NotericOctober 29th 2013.

Sounds more like cultural oppression to me. Sorry, can't do that, you weren't there, you aren't cool enough, you aren't one of 'us'? Nobody is making you go, you have no right to try to stop this and certainly have no right to sneer at anyone who attends, or plays at this new venue. I am all for more live venues in this city and I do not care a jot if it means resurrecting a 30-year old name to use as a hook to attract acts. How about a little less sneering and a little more support?

DigMay 11th 2011.

I think a new Erics would be a good idea. I was too young to visit the original but would certainly visit a new one given the right location and acts. I think a modern Mathew Street would be the wrong place for it. The evening clientele only consists of beer swilling teens who have no knowledge of the legend of Erics and Pete Price. Somewhere like the original Korova would be a better site for it as that end of Town attracts a more mature drinker and already has established music venues of a similar ilk in The Zanzibar, Kazimier and Shipping Forecast. Also if, when and where it does take off, to guarantee it's success Phil Hayes should certainly be a part of it.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Liverpool WagMay 13th 2011.

Ha ha!

AnonymousMay 11th 2011.

In that case Dig, just open a music venue anywhere in Liverpool and call it Korova or something?

Darran AndrewMay 11th 2011.


DigMay 11th 2011.

Nah. Not quite.

AnonymousMay 12th 2011.

Appalled, quite frankly. Can we stop living in a museum please?

1 Response: Reply To This...
NotericOctober 29th 2013.

Not appalled, frankly I am all for a live venue to attract more bands to Liverpool and the resurrection of this name will prove a magnet, there is no place for sneering and anything to put the live scene of this city back on the map I am in favour of.

Colin WMay 13th 2011.

Open anything you like there, but don't call it Eric's. Don't go trading on other people's work. It's cultural theft, mate.

Andy MeliaMay 13th 2011.

Never trust anyone who spells 'programme' as 'program'

Leon KayMay 13th 2011.


Liverpool WagMay 13th 2011.

Billy Butler was interviewing the new owners on the radio about their exciting plans. Says it all really...

1 Response: Reply To This...
Billy ButlerMay 13th 2011.

Hiya Liverpool Wag. Now that youve got that ageist remark off your chest...I went to both the Cavern and Erics I can understand how former customers wish to protect Erics legacy. Its another live venue for bands and thats a good thing. I just hope whoever books the bands has the same vision as Eagles and Testi, And by the way Mr Liverpool wag this old fart plays more local bands on his show than any nother presenter on daytime radio !!!

DigMay 13th 2011.

I thought it was a good idea as I wrote it. Certainly changed my mind now I've had time to think about it. Well, OK, just because Liverpool Wag laughed at me.....

Alan HirdMay 13th 2011.

It was a 1970's concept that popularised new bands then that only came about in the wake of the Beatles, and therefore would not stand the test of time as well as the Beatles. It is worth pointing out that American rock 'n' roll led to the Beatles and the Beatles led to the birth of British rock and pop. So therefore there could not have been any of the British rock music of the seventies right up to the present and into the future without the Beatles -and American rock 'n' roll before the Beatles. So those who vowed to never listen again to the Beatles were wrong.

This is why the British rock and pop would not stand the test of time as well as the Beatles have. Because it does not have the same huge international following of the Beatles right around the globe. People from right across the globe will visit the reopened Cavern but are extremely unlikely to visit a reopened Eric's. So Eric's could really only be seen as a passing seventies phase.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 26th 2014.

Dad, please stop drinking...

TourmanMay 13th 2011.

In 20 years of being a Tour Guide, no-one has ever asked me about Eric's. I don't know if that is a reflection on the visitors or Eric's is not as "world famous" as some people think. It is the same with the "Iron Door" and the "Mardi Gras" and a lot of other clubs that were of their time.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Alan HirdMay 23rd 2011.

Tourman I think you have certainly proved my point, of the popularity and staying power of the Beatles and the Cavern over other bands and venues since.

Tricky WooMay 13th 2011.

The Iron Door became the System and then Club Zoo, one of the most thrilling live music clubs of the early 1980s in the UK.

I was too young for Eric's but I went to the opening night of Club Zoo without even being aware it was once the Iron Door, although I had obviously heard of it. That's the whole point. Bill Drummond and co didn't trade on the past glories of the Iron Door (which the Beatles played regularly, they just weren't filmed there, like the Cavern) they reinvented what was already a great venue. Short-lived and all the better for it.

The same can happen with the old Eric's site. If these club owners were really sincere, they would use their imagination and not nick other people's intellectual copyright.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
NotericOctober 29th 2013.

What copyright is that? Do they own the name, was it registered? If not, quite honestly you have no case. Eric's Live exists, it is booking acts of many styles and attracting punters TODAY. If you prefer to stay in and complain from your computer, yo

NotericOctober 29th 2013.

...your views are irrelevant.

Liverpool WagMay 14th 2011.

Whoa Billy!

Tim TaplingMay 14th 2011.

If it would appease the luddites it could follow the modern trend of desecrating the english language and be called ERIX !

As far as I can ascertain there is absolutely no intent
for this incarnationof Eric's to try and become a pastiche
of the original . I have yet to hear an objective reason
as to why you wouldn't call Eric's ... Eric's !

All I hear from the old school is a series of emotive & subjective knee-jerk reactions to the idea based on absolutely no knowledge at all, about the intentions
of the new operators and in a particular case wholly
based on personal distaste and contempt.

I would suggest it suffices to say that it was hardly in line with the espoused punk revolutionary attitudes expressed as an objection to the hi-jacking of the Erics Brand .. when this person went over to the corporate darkside in '08 .. and is currently involved in the running of themed nights at another well known & highly respected Liverpool venue using now defunct iconic club names that have as much relevance to the people who went to those venues, as Eric's has for many of the patrons of the original venue !

2 Responses: Reply To This...
IwasthereMay 15th 2011.


Absinthe & TurksMay 25th 2011.

"Iconic" names?


The Babalou?


N.NeilMay 19th 2011.

Whats up with yuz. Am goin and am gona get ****faced in there. And then am gona go somewere else and get even more **** faced. I walked round town when it was a **** hole. It wuz boss then and its boss now. Weve finally got over the war.

N.NeilMay 19th 2011.

But if theres a good band on there Ill probably stay ****faced in there. Peace Love and Yes you guessed it

Absinthe & TurksMay 20th 2011.

Ha! Dig, you have it all wrong!

The clientele WERE "beer-swilling teens" with a taste for speed as a chaser. In its day Eric’s was the diametric opposite of the large suburban pub with bands comprising balding civil servants performing note-perfect covers of The Eagles’ records for the domestically content and drearily conformist with their car keys on the table, which is what you want it to be.

It was never a cosy rock venue for old bores and your "mature drinkers", it was a filthy, dark place where we drank flat beer from scratched plastic glasses that had all been stamped upon, the urine in the stinking gents was ankle-deep but we saw ALL MANNER of performers, not just the predictable, the fashionable and the obviously mainstream: the experimental taped music of the unknown early Human League, Rockin’ Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters as well as Ed Banger, The Naughty Lumps, Ded Trout and The Chuddy Nuddies.

It was Wagner on the jukebox for flip’s sake, NOT the Beatles.

Of course if someone has the money and wants to open it as a quaint nostalgia venue for the safe, predictable and wishy washy entertainment of the suburban chump who never went (and would never have gone) to the original, they are welcome to, but it never be Eric’s.

Today’s yoof hasn’t even heard of amphetamine sulphate.

Sit down, you're rocking the boatMay 24th 2011.

You tell him, Nervous.

By the way, I see the Echo finally picked up on this kerfuffle two weeks after the dust had settled.

Can someone wake me up when it's time to drop dead?May 24th 2011.

Hmmm. That's pretty good going. They only realised what Eric's was two years ago when they did the play about it.

Absinthe & TurksMay 25th 2011.

They should call it 'Brady's' then, which it was after the police closed Eric's down.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Absinthe & TurksMay 25th 2011.

Like this new idea to re-open 'Eric's', 'Brady's' also had an air of money-grubbing desperation.

Whatever happened to Brady's? Did it just close down through a lack of interest? Or did the bouncers frighten off the customers?

Liverpool WagMay 25th 2011.

Yes, can't see anyone objecting to that.....

Absinthe & TurksMay 25th 2011.

Mangie's right - there were NO Eric's t-shirts, only 'Eric's' button badges. And I've got one.

In those t-shirts were only for hippies, greaboes and the denim pseudorati with their B.O.F. pretend-Californian values.

Liverpool WagMay 25th 2011.

I had forgotten about greaboes. Whatever happened to beauts?

Darth FormbyMay 25th 2011.

Beauts went to live on a caravan site in Gronant, with texans and tusks, you melt! Well said though Nervo. By the way, the Shipping Forecast is exclusively for dickheads, and is just the kind of thing I imagine the Erics incubi have in mind.

Daved KayJune 1st 2011.

HEY MISTER ! I was the DJ on RADIO DOOM + did the "new band night" every Thursday. Plus went to weekends to enjoy on my GREEN card (!!)as an Eric's VIP(!!!).::: ERICS sure did do T-Shirts ~ Roger gave me one which I've still got ~ daved00m ♬♬ xx

AnonymousJune 1st 2011.

Darth, I do find it incredibly comforting that you too think the Shipping Forecast is exclusively for dickheads. Thank you.

Darth FormbyJune 3rd 2011.

Glad to have brought some comfort anon. It's only the truth though.

Kelly O'connorJune 8th 2011.

Looking for people to interview on Friday June 10 evening about Eric's for a debate taking place on BBC Radio Merseyside. Pro and cons about the launch. If interested and are available in the centre from about 6.30pm please email me kellyoc6@hotmail.com

MickJune 8th 2011.

Radio Merseyside, first with the news...

MickJune 14th 2011.

I see Jayne managed to get herself booted out of your show the other night Kelly. Shocking

Ninja HSeptember 2nd 2012.

went to erics last night, what a dump... i couldve done a better refurb with my eyes closed... also nice when 2 london DJ's come up to play and get booted off mid set and everyone kicked out early so as a so called liverpool DJ can have his own private rave... wont be going back they shouldve left it alone.

AnonymousSeptember 3rd 2012.

Has anyone forgiven Andy McCluskey yet?

Paddy BrettApril 30th 2013.

I met Ian Curtis in Erics toilets (not for that!) before the best gig I have ever been to.

Sadly Ian and Erics are both now dead RIP.

I cannot see any problem whatsoever in celebrating their past lives in this manner.

I think Casey et al should get over themselves.

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